AMERICAN MUSCLE CARS: The next war begins 2007
Just when Ford thought it had won the 'pony car' war when the last of its adversaries went to grave a few years ago, the rivals rise
In 1964, Ford introduced a Ferrari 'wannabe' to American baby boomers and it was called the Mustang...hence the term ''pony car'' was coined. It was an instant success thanks to a good balance of sportiness, performance and value for money. It was neither the biggest nor the most powerful cars of its time in the US...just a notch below the beastly and expensive Ford GT40 or Chevy Corvette flagship sports cars.
We are talking about a two-door coupe with long bonnet, short rear end and a V8 engine that an average Joe could afford to buy and burn tarmac from Sunset Boulevard all the way to Florida Keys.
It also sparked competition from the other two big American car companies in the form of Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird and Dodge Challenger.
The fact that in 42 years, over eight million Mustangs have been sold and that the current fifth generation is still going strong tells you that Ford has got something right.
First to throw down the gauntlet to the pony car war was the Chevy Camaro which debuted in 1967 and sold a big fraction of the Mustang volume in four generations until its demise in 2002...the same year it's GM brother, the Pontiac Firebird, was discontinued.
The Dodge Challenger came late in to the pony car war in 1970 and, thanks in part to the oil crisis at the time, departed as early as 1974...less than 166,000 units sold.
Although Dodge rebadged 1978 Mitsubishi Galant Lambda Coupe as a second generation Challenger, it never really qualified as a pony car with its four-cylinder only engine.
Back to present and we have now seen both the Camaro and Challenger reborn in the form of concept cars at the Detroit Motor Show held earlier this year. The former is expected in the American showrooms in 2007 and the latter in 2008. Let's see what each have to offer and compete with the Ford Mustang.
Source: Bankok Post Motoring
Friday February 24, 2006